Australian rights group ‘Jews Against The Occupation’ has strongly condemned yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Australia would consider moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The announcement was made as Morrison tours the electorate of Wentworth, which heads to a by-election on Saturday following the resignation of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Wentworth is a wealthy electorate, and also has a high proportion of Jews – around 13 percent of the electors.
The highly provocative move would align Australia with the United States, which moved its Embassy in May, but put us out of step with the rest of the world – the international convention has been to locate embassies in Tel Aviv, a recognition of the contested status of Jerusalem between Israel and Palestine.
In a written statement, Vivienne Porzsolt from Jews Against the Occupation – a Jewish-based Pro-Palestinian organisation based in Sydney – said Morrison’s move was an “insult” to the Jewish community of Wentworth, and predicted the stunt would fail.
“Jews against the Occupation absolutely condemns the Prime Minister’s raising the possibility of moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem,” Ms Porzsolt said.
“This is a provocative move which reveals complete disregard for international law and for efforts to achieve justice for Palestinians and a peaceful resolution of the conflict for both Israelis and Palestinians.
“In the last-minute dash for the imminent Wentworth by-election, it is a blatant appeal to the so-called ‘Jewish vote’.
“This is an insult to the Jewish community which encompasses a much broader range of views than is reflected in the pronouncements of the Jewish leadership in lockstep with the State of Israel.
“Such transparent electioneering is an abuse of policy-making processes. It should persuade the voters of Wentworth to support any other candidate to send a message of ‘No Confidence’ to the current government.”
Currently, only the United States and Guatemala house their embassies in Jerusalem, recognition of the fact that when Israel was established in 1948, the United Nations resolved Jerusalem would be given the status of ‘special international city’, with future plans for it to be jointly controlled by Israel and Palestine given its importance to Islam, Christianity and the Jewish people.
A succession of wars between Israel and its neighbours has delayed the foundation of the Palestinian state, and East Jerusalem (Palestinian land) has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six War Day.
Under international law, it is illegal for an occupying power to move their own citizens into occupied territory. Israel has already established more than 600 settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank, and it has controlled the lives and security of Palestinians in East Jerusalem indefinitely.
Wentworth heads to the polls on Saturday. It has been held by the Liberals since the second world war, save for a brief stint in 2004 by Peter King, a Liberal turned independent. Media polls suggest Liberal candidate Dave Sharma is trailing in a three-way contest between Labor, the Liberals and Independent Dr Kerry Phelps, who is Jewish.
If Dr Phelps finishes second on primary votes behind Mr Sharma, she’s likely to overtake him on preferences and win the seat. If that occurs, the Coalition would be forced into a minority government in parliament in order to retain office.
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